gotcha day

October is such a fun and busy month: 3 turns 4 and our Bruttie boy turns 10 a week later. There is a lot of celebration and far more cookies and pizza than usual. This month, we decided to do our family fun date around 3’s birthday because that’s what scheduling permits. I can’t wait to write a recap of that. Alas, I digress.

The most pivotal thing that’s ever happened in October is 3’s Gotcha Day. We officially adopted our little man two days after his second birthday. Our judge was also an adoptive parent and truly spoke from the heart when he met us. I will forever be grateful for his decorum: He gave our two year old child two stuffed animals (Rainbow and Nice Bear as they’ve so lovingly been named) and a gavel. We hired a photographer for our special day and there are some doozies in there with our son waving that gavel proudly.  It was a really memorable day, filled with high-fives, fist bumps, an appearance by his foster family who loved him so deeply, and more tears than I could qualify.

In the days leading up to his adoption, my husband and I were able to sneak away to Savannah and Hilton Head, sans children. It was nice to have a bit of space to process everything that was going on. It had been a stressful few years where infertility blazed the way of all of our stresses and my hormonal rises and crashes. Not fun. Alas, those feelings were largely erased after our little man’s gotcha day.

He had spent ~730 days in foster care prior to that day and it was a relief to know that we could help him to break the cycle. We are quickly approaching our two year anniversary of this special day and I am just beside myself that I get to be his mommy. He has the sweetest little voice and the best personality — he is athletic and shares my love of books; he’s never one to turn down a muffin, even if it means he’s taken it from the trash and attempted to dine al fresca. He is my best little buddy who I take on flights and travel adventures and who never turns down a trip to the zoo or local library.

It’s hard to get through the month without taking a pause to reflect on this special day. We have pictures from the courthouse in our hallway and we always make a deliberate effort to talk about his adoption and remind him how special he is to have so many people love him and want what was best for him.

Of course, adoption and his gotcha day is not made of all sunflowers and applesauce. There is trauma and questions of family history at the forefront of our minds. It is constant. Still, we continue to approach this day with care and love and our best intentions with our family’s light.

 

sept reflections, oct goals

Wow! September has flown by! Four-fifths of my household is back in school, myself included and my husband is the glue holding us all together. Lucky him! Personally, I am enjoying half of my classes so far; the other is okay. I am a little disappointed, to be honest: There’s a lot of theorist review, so it’s not particularly exciting but the worst part is that there is very little class engagement. It is a stark contrast to my other class where we are encouraged to try new things and the discussion boards are very active; even in the online platform, I can feel my classmates’ passion and interest in their collective work.

The whole program I am in is online, which is a really big adjustment to me. I’ve been going on campus to the library two nights a week and am treating both classes like an in-person class, so that I have those hours allotted during the week for work. I also try to get things done during 3’s “naps” and when I can take an hour or two to slip upstairs away from the chaos. I think that because I am so excited to be learning new things, it keeps me going and I don’t feel so bogged down with the work. I just hope when all is said and done, that this translates to employment in a library — sounds like such fun work!

13 is enjoying eighth grade and currently has straight As; she is anxiously (and not even the least bit patiently) waiting for the music teacher to announce this year’s musical. 11’s transition to middle school is going as expected; he’s having a more positive experience with peers but is greatly disorganized. We are watching from the sidelines to see how he handles things, which is easier said than done much of the time. 3 is also enjoying school; he’s going super part-time and he just loves his teacher. There are a lot of adjustments for him (big boy bed, front-facing car seat, school for everyone) and he’s having a hard time but I know that he will settle eventually.

My goals around school are to maintain my focus and schedule and in regards to the kids, to maintain my patience. 3 has some rough days and I try to remain calm as best I can. I give myself frequent breaks when needed and have been walking our boy, Bruttie, every chance I can so that I’m getting fresh air and some exercise. I also bought a Groupon for a new yoga studio; my in-laws got me a gift card for my birthday and I finally got around to using it. I am excited to give the next month a go at the new studio; hopefully, I can set down some roots at this studio and get back on my yoga grind. I am going to continue to try box jumps and tire flips. I’ve also been using the Expresso bikes at the gym and really like the workouts pre-programmed. I want to continue with that and also get back to challenging myself by doing a 5K a month — I liked doing the 5K a week in the spring and summer but I kind of doing what feels right each day and I want to continue with that trend.

Otherwise, my health goals are to just continue doing what I’m doing. I have been walking with our Bruttie Boy a lot. It’s good for us both. I have been drinking a lot of water and trying to eat foods that agree with my body and keep the ones that don’t to a minimum. I am just trusting my mind and body more; this is what I always used to do and then I’m not really sure what happened but I want to get back to a place where I can do that.

I also want to continue grocery shopping without a list. It’s easy enough to figure out what we can make based on what I buy and hit the store for a few more items that are needed, if even anything is needed. I am going to try to highlight a meal or two each week that we’ve made and maybe include recipes/pictures so that I can write posts specifically about the meals we enjoy.

Lastly, my final set of goals for October is to bring back Self-care Sunday (or Saturday) where I paint my nails and/or use a face mask. I work out and try to keep a clear mind, so when I think about self-care at home, I think of pampering.  Other things I’m looking forward to in October:
– Apple Picking
– Fall walks
– 3 turning 4
– Bruttie turning 10
– Family date day
– A fresh haircut
– Boots & booties and other fall-related fashion
– Hot toddy consumption: apple cider, lemon, cinnamon, and 1T of bourbon

 

 

weekend memories

I moved to DC when I was 21 — fresh out of college with a BS in Professional Writing and Information Systems. What a combo! I had a job just across the street from the White House with a boss who believed in me and my writing. Because of him, I was published by 22. I moved on from that position and entered the marketing world, editing online content for financial advisors and eventually settling in as the marketing department of a start-up.

Things at this time were exciting — I was young, full of energy, and was living in the thick of Georgetown’s social scene. I had a serious boyfriend whose friends rubbed elbows with the likes of the Bush sisters; many a night I spent with them at Smithpoint after whispering the code of the night. As a small town girl from western Pennsylvania, this social scene never registered on my radar as a possibility. Every weekend was filled with excitement (and probably too much alcohol) and fun; followed up with brunch dates with my best friend and a trip the Pour House on Capitol Hill to watch the Steelers play on Sundays.

I eventually moved on from marketing and my boyfriend. I went to graduate school and started teaching in DC; I also moved to northern VA. At this point, I was in another serious relationship. This time, with someone who had a brother in-law in the music industry and a sister who was a creative genius. I had the world at my finger tips and a newly purchased home. I spent my weekend nights with my friends and boyfriend; scream-singing Journey and A-ha with a cocktail or two and a slice of jumbo slice to follow.

Fast forward to nine years ago: I sold my share of the house, moved to Boston with my dog, and eventually met my husband. Friday and Saturday nights were quickly changed from cocktails after work to ordering pizza with the kids; my weekend boozy brunches with friends became at-home brunches with the ‘egg-man’ and Beatles’ songs.

Last night, I’d say I hit the pinnacle of excitement that could take place in my adult life. No longer am I out until 4AM, partying in Georgetown; instead, I was asleep BY 8PM and wide-awake by 2:51AM… Oh, yes. The good life of exhaustion and homemade brunches and in-town festivals and walks for ice cream. This is the Saturday dream (less the exhaustion).

september goals, updated

I have thrown out all of my September goals and have started over.

I have been working up the nerve to try to a box jump for the last two years. On Friday, at the gym, I did it. I did ONE box jump and it was not graceful and it was kind of scary BUT… I DID IT. I think I’m still on a high from this! I’ve been visiting the gym on campus because 1. I pay the fees in my tuition and 2. I still haven’t found a yoga studio of interest. So, in addition to testing the waters of box jumping, I have also started to do tire flips.

I’m not going to lie, tire flips really make feel some kind of way — strong, fierce. Today, I did three. I am not doing a lot of them and am being cautious about form. I want to make sure I’m in a deep squat and use my trunk to move the weight of the tire instead of my back. I really look forward to seeing how much I can progress with this once I start back with yoga.

For the rest of the month, I’m going to set a goal of continuing what I’m doing and find myself a yoga studio (or at least test out a yoga studio a few times). Now that 3 has started preK, I have a few hours a few days a week to find a studio that fits with the schedule. I also ran into our babysitter at the gym on Friday and she offered to come on weekend mornings for yoga or running. I am trying to figure out how we can best utilize her with our crazy schedules and hers and this seems like the most ideal situation for us. It doesn’t give us time together, necessarily (unless we are running a race) but it does allow us some alone time doing a physical activity that keeps us sane.

In addition to the deliberate working out, I’ve been trying to log 3.1 miles a day on foot — this is from a combination of dog walks, playing with my son, errands, walking to get ice cream, and parking further than usual from a building. I’ve done pretty well with this and while it’s a goal, it’s not something that I try to focus on, so I don’t typically carry my phone around the house with me. (Fortunately, 13 keeps tabs on it and always knows where it is, which makes one of us.)

I figured if I put the update into the universe, I’d be more vigilant about continuing to try box jumps and tire flips and will find myself a new yoga studio…

 

guilt free foods

Let’s talk about “guilt free foods” for a moment. I felt inspired to discuss this when I opened an email from FindMeGlutenFree about “Guilt Free Brownie Bites” — huh?

Now, I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t make me feel guilty. I love desserts, I’m the first to admit. There is plenty of guilt to go around, especially as a mom, but we all need to draw a line somewhere and for me, this is where.

I spend a lot of time thinking about food and planning our meals. One of my goals for this year is to be more mindful of finding balance in my life, diet included. I’d like to slim down a little and lose some weight (health reasons, not merely vanity) and I’m working hard to figure out what works best for my body. I spend a good bit of time reading and researching various recipes. I’ve talked with my doctor numerous times and have met with a nutritionist. Finally, I feel I’m making progress.

Over the summer, I tried WW. I think that it’s too restrictive overall for my liking, in that I’m only allotted ~1200 calories a day. Sure, that number increases with the “zero point food” but I don’t think I’m eating 400+ calories of chicken breast and plain Greek yogurt. I will say, though, that I definitely saw a trend by tracking. I am really good about eating something for breakfast and sugary breakfast foods are not my friend because they just make me hungry. My big issue is that I often skip lunch or have “snack lunch” which never bodes well for me. This is something I’ve become mindful of needing to change. I will miss lunch because I’m busy and then 3PM rolls around and I basically eat nonstop until after dinner.

Whole30 is part of what has helped — while the foods didn’t necessarily work for me, I learned that fat is not evil and I probably need more of it in my diet. What I do not need, however, is a ton of meat — high protein/fat does not work for my body. I love fruits and vegetables and it’s easy to take in a lot of produce, and focusing on that not only works well for my body but also puts me in a good headspace.

After Whole30 a few years ago, I learned that I’m allergic to yeast and as a result, gluten and refined sugars are never going to work well with my body. I had been gluten free completely for years but then there were things that came up (a few trips coupled with a couple deaths in the family and I went completely off the rails with gluten). I got back to being mostly GF and then our kitchen collapsed and I spent the better part of last fall eating takeout and fast food. Since the kitchen was remodeled, we’ve been back to cooking wholesome meals that are more in agreement with my body. I have a few cookbooks I really like and am really looking forward to The Defined Dish’s cookbook that is set to come out.

Despite my eating preferences, I do not feel guilty if I eat something whether it be purposefully or on accident that doesn’t align with my body’s needs. I usually feel sick, but I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day and I try to pick things up and move forward. I like pizza; I like nachos; I like mac & cheese; I like cake; and as childish and gross as it may be, I like Bagel Bites (not even the organic ones but the chemical ones) — but I don’t need any guilt associated with these foods, and neither does anyone else.

Ultimately, this rambling is really about understanding the importance of disparaging titles attached to foods. There really shouldn’t be — we should all just be concerned with what makes our bodies work and what we can afford and what works for us. It really bothers to me that my kids grow up seeing that they should feel guilty for indulging in a treat or should be shamed for eating something that’s not terribly healthy. At some point, I think it’s vital to change the way we look and talk about food — and also how it’s marketed.

/endrant

(On a side note, I go back and forth and back and forth about getting a fitness watch of some sort — I think they’re neat and I’d love a more accurate read of how many calories I burn doing exercises; however, I know myself and I know that I become obsessed with numerical goals like this. Every time I say I’m considering getting one, I weigh my options and always come back to doing what is best for my mental health — steering clear. I do not need guilt from food, nor do I from fitness…)

(Second side note: I wrote this before my trip to PA and set it to publish at a later date. When I was in PA, my mother talked incessantly about calories – so much so, that three started to ask about how many calories are in an item; then, I returned to MA to my MIL who also obsessively talked about ‘bad’ foods and needing to ‘be good’ with eating. She’s doing WW now and everything is about how many points it has… it was all too much for me. I try to dabble in structure but it just doesn’t seem to work because I don’t want to model the concept of demonizing food for the kids. With 3, I worry because he’s never gaining enough weight for his doctors to be pleased; despite the fact that all he does when he’s not moving is eat, bathe, or sleep…)

 

 

 

aug reflections, sept goals

Oh, man. Summer has been a whirlwind with lots of beach days, a Disney vacation, mini golf, early morning walks with the dog, a trip to Water Country, visits with family, Red Sox games, grilled meats, and walks to get ice cream. It was really a great summer and was full of love and laughter, regardless of how cliche it sounds. Now, here we are … September … the month of having an eighth grader, sixth grader, and preK-3 kiddo in the house.

Oy Vey.

I am NOT ready for this.

I also am not ready to start graduate school. Again. I wonder how many people have multiple graduate degrees, but honestly, most of my friends actually do… I suppose I surround myself with either really smart people or really nerdy people. I am not sure which category I fall into here… I guess the camp where none of us are too cool for school!

I am ready, however, for routines and my annual coffee and apple picking and mid-day walks with the Brutus and time to exercise someplace outside of my house and big weekend homemade brunches with the family, plus a surprise family day trip.

In addition to getting into the swing of fall fun, I am looking forward to really nailing down my routine. With 3 in preK, I am looking to capitalize on those nine hours a week to head to campus and work out. My goal is to do a 5K a day, 3-5x/week — and it doesn’t matter how those 3.1 miles are accomplished: walking, running, elliptical, bike, or any other cardio machine. I’d like to get in two lifting days a week and then yoga on the weekend (I found a studio close-by that has both hot and yin yogas; so, I hope I like it — one of the instructors is actually from my old studio in the city).

My fitness goals should help with manage my stress levels and anxiety. The diet piece is a little different — I want to just keep in mind that produce and water are my best friends, as is lunch — so, I want to make sure that I can maintain consistency. I am going to start to trust my body, otherwise; no tracking or monitoring what I’m eating. I know what works best for my body and I need to trust myself to make the best choices and follow the whole eat anything but not everything I want mantra.

Here’s to meeting my goals in September!

july reflections, august goals

July has been a great month! I feel like my health is improving, I’m down seven pounds, I’ve been to the beach as much as possible both to play with the kids and to read alone, and I am just overall feeling much lighter. All that being said, I did not meet any of my July goals — I stopped doing yoga and I only did one 5K; I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped and I feel fine about it.

Typically, I would get into my own head about such compromises: I’d feel anxious and I’d obsess about everything I didn’t do. This month, I took a different approach — I went into MayMyRun and turned off my goals and I canceled my yoga membership. Full disclosure: Getting into Boston for yoga was turning into a stress. There is a lot more traffic and there are a lot more people and unexpected road closures in the summer. It just became too much to leave 90 minutes before class instead of 45 and still find myself sprinting from the parking garage to the studio. I found a place close by that I am going to try once I decide I’m ready to dedicate the time again (September at the latest).

Enough about what I’ve not done. This month, I am going to focus on what I’ve done as I reflect. I have walked. A LOT. I only use the AppleHealth app on my phone, so it only logs steps I take when I have it on me. I have upped my walks with the dog, my son and I walk basically everywhere, and when I’m at the beach alone or with my husband, I go for long walks there. I am happy to say that I’ve been logging 2-6miles a day with minimal effort. I enjoy walking and I am finding that walking the dog 4-6x a day has him in a great mood as well. Win-Win!

I have also been eating better. I’m not really making a lot of food adjustments. I have just been watching and am making sure I don’t skip lunch and then eat nonstop from 3:30-bedtime. My goal is to lose 3lbs a month, which I think is reasonable and healthy and it will not have me feeling like I can’t eat cupcakes or have a drink or a shrimp quesadilla when the mood strikes. This has been a great approach for me so far.

Additionally, I haven’t been planning long, elaborate meals. Mostly, we’ve been grilling chicken and corn on the cob and serving it with either grilled or cold vegetables and watermelon. It’s easy and delicious and the pressure of meal prep/planning is largely gone for the time being. What I have been planning are trips — I am taking 3 on a surprise trip a month after his birthday. I booked our flights and our hotel and have gotten in touch with friends in that area. I cannot wait! I have also planned on going back to school and registered for my fall classes. Truth be told, I am nervous but excited.

I am hoping to keep things much the same for August. I want to continue to eat in a healthy, mindful way. I also need to be sure that I’m walking the dog and myself regularly. I can get back to yoga and running in September without skipping a beat. I know that once the school year starts and we are in more of a groove, I like to have more structure but for now, I want to allow myself to enjoy the leisurely exercise that I’m getting and the no-stress, no-pressure summer ways.